How do I Add Restrooms Without a Sewer or Septic?

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Adding a restroom without a sewer or septic connection saves water.
Image Credit: ben-bryant/iStock/GettyImages

Where do you go when nature calls while you're in, well, nature? Whether you're hunting, camping, traveling in an RV or just need a cheap restroom for guests at your facility, there are several different types of toilets that don't require a sewer or septic line.

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You can add restrooms to an outdoor facility without a sewer or septic tank by installing a composting toilet, cassette toilet, plastic sleeve toilet or portable outdoor toilet unit.

Waterless Composting Toilets

According to Let'sGoGreen.com, composting toilets work by separating liquid and solid waste. The liquid waste is disposed of through evaporation, whereas the solid waste decomposes thanks to aerobic bacteria.

Proper composting techniques will destroy any pathogens in the waste and result in a dry product that can be removed from a drawer under the toilet and safely spread around plants as a fertilizer. It's important to find a high-quality composting toilet and to maintain it according to its instruction manual to achieve safe and odor-free results.

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Types of RV Toilets

According to Curbed, a typical RV toilet connects to the black water tank. Gravity helps drop waste from the toilet bowl into the black water tank when a pedal is pushed, and a tight-sealing flap closes when the pedal is released to block odors. To help scoot stubborn waste into the black water tank, a nearby water hose can be helpful. The black water tank is typically connected to a sewer system at a later date via a hose and emptied.

Alternatively, you can have a portable toilet or cassette toilet that has a removable waste tank. These tanks can be emptied into a regular toilet for easy disposal. However, they may hold less than an RV black water tank. The major downside of these toilets is the hands-on approach to emptying them. It's not a pretty sight (or smell).

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Plastic Sleeve Toilets

Another way to dispose of toilet waste without any sort of sewer, septic or water access is to enclose it in a plastic bag and place this in the trash. The most sanitary way to do this is to urinate or defecate directly into the plastic bag, and there are some contraptions available that make this easy to do.

Some of the simplest personal toilets feature a folding toilet stand with a bag hanging underneath, whereas others feature a toilet seat on top of a 5-gallon bucket. Do your business, tie up the bag for disposal and attach a fresh bag for the next use.

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For situations that require a toilet for multiple people, a hands-off approach is more suitable. Consider a dry-flush toilet that automatically replaces the plastic sleeve for the next use, such as the Uncle Jon Dry-Flush Toilet offered by Toilets.com.

You may want to post a little instructional diagram near this toilet to help people understand how it works: Lift the top by the handles and then push the top back down again to stow the used plastic in the waste container and pull up a new plastic sleeve. After about 30 uses, empty the bottom storage container and install a new plastic cartridge.

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Outdoor Toilet Units

The plastic port-a-potties that are ubiquitous at events and construction sites get the job done in a pinch. When waste is collected weekly and the use is kept under the recommended capacity, these units remain bearable thanks to a layer of scented chemicals that help break down the waste and suppress odors.

However, the waste collection truck does generate a smell for several minutes when emptying the unit. On the plus side, you don't need to build a separate privacy shelter for these outdoor toilet units, but you'll need to pay a waste disposal fee and possibly a rental fee.

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references & resources

Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.